There are a lot of religions out there which is pretty strange if you’re an adherent to one that purports to proclaim the one and only truth with the one and only all-powerful creator at its midst. And because there are a lot of religions it’s not particularly feasible for anyone to keep track of them all so sometimes it comes as a bit of surprise to learn about a new one or learn some new fact about the practices of one you’d not been aware of before.
So it is with the Nation of Islam, a religious movement I’d only really heard about through exposure to hip hop music, pictures of Louis Farrakhan, and Brother Mouzone from The Wire. I guess my assumption about the group was that they dressed well, spoke well, had a fondness for bow ties, and listened to Public Enemy; overall, a minor and perhaps eccentric branch of Islam, US-centric, with some unsavoury views of the world if Professor Griff was typical of the group members.
Today, though, through one of my Google Alerts I learned something else about the Nation of Islam: its patriarch, Elijah Muhammed, apparently met God (which is nice) and God showed him his UFOs(*). This comes courtesy of this article written by Safiyyah Muhammad: Hollywood and the portrayal of UFOs.
Another religious movement that features UFOs. Ah, that’s just wonderful. Of course, it’s easy to roll your eyes and mutter “really?” under your breath but when you think about it at least there’s some microscopic thread that attaches a UFO-based cult to reality (no, I’m not advocating anything put forward on Ancient Aliens). The same can’t be said for deities appearing as animals or bushes or swiftly covering planets in water as part of a benevolent genocide, to name but a few preposterous events.
The aforementioned article isn’t a great read but by all means give it a go if you want to learn how much money Independence Day grossed at the box office and whether Minister Farrakhan’s favourite sci-fi movie is The Day The Earth Stood Still or Plan 9 From Outer Space(**).
So what do we know about these UFOs and what evidence do we have for them?
I’ll answer that latter question first with an interpretive dance that involves rolling on the floor and convulsing with mimed laughter, holding my sides tightly, and then leaping up to perform a move reminiscent of a Whirling Dervish at full speed in order to symbolise my innards spilling out in all directions, unable to remain within the confines of my body any longer as the muscles and tissue gives way to the hilarity that needs to be set free.
Back to the first question. What do we know about the Nation of Islam and its UFOs then?
Elijah Muhammad taught his followers about a Mother Plane or Wheel, a UFO that was seen and described in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel in the Book of Ezekiel, in the Hebrew Bible.
Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. Book of Ezekiel Chapter 1:15-18, Bible, English Standard Version.
Here we hear about an object which is described as a wheel within a wheel with eyes all around each tall rim. It’s not clear whether the wheels are concentric (which would support the statement about the rims being tall) or shaped more like a gyroscope (which would support the statement about moving in four directions but then runs counter to them having tall rims since the inner wheel would need to be at right angles). How very odd? It’s not like something in the Bible to be vague and contradictory.
Louis Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher’s description, said the following:
“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects. Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day but a pillar of fire by night. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the Original scientists. It took $15 billion in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this Mother Wheel, which is a half mile by a half mile (800 m by 800 m). This Mother Wheel is like a small human-built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.
We’ve gone from wheels to spheres, from four-directional movement to all directions, shifted manufacturing to Japan, and added in construction material, scale (imperial and metric), and costs (sadly not adjusted for inflation). And we’ve also gone from spheres to UFOs. But only if you’re a white person. If this hasn’t set the Nonsense Alarm Bell ringing in your head then there’s probably no help for you and you might just be my uncle. This is exactly the sort of evidence-lacking, childish, leaping, illogical crap he accepts blindly too.
Ah, religions, you never cease to amuse and terrify in equal measures.
(*) As a skeptic, my first thought was “American cars are quite large and could be mistaken for UFOs. Is Elijah certain this wasn’t just a used car lot? Some of those salesmen act like they created the universe too.”
(**) Actually, it’s probably Battlefield Earth.